Like the rest of the Northeast, this past week in Vermont has been a sizzler. Nowhere has it been worse than inside the prison, with its few fans and close quarters. Despite brutal heat and humidity – with their attendant effects of slowing everyone down to a near-halt – we met at mid-week’s height of the heat with a dozen dedicated women.
Our theme? The power of our words. To ‘pull us from the depths of unknowing,’ as a line from Denise Levertov’s opening poem says. Words that fly with urgency or open like flowers. Words that hold us back or propel us forward.
Although each woman’s writing was different, arranging lines from each woman into a poem speaks to the universal experience of our lives. Heat or no heat!
How Much I’ve Grown, Given, Lost
I pushed aside something that mattered
when I left —
wonder if I’m on the right track,
afraid of not ‘getting it,’ over-thinking,
not measuring up to other people,
scared to make moves or changes.
Anxiety stops my imagination.
Letting my bare feet fall in
days filled with counting sunrises
I craved difference –
passion, anxiety, purpose –
a power I did not anticipate having.
I wanted to be amazed, taken to new worlds;
I sit here waiting for the day I leave
strange words crying their urgency,
the creeping brightness
no longer measuring my life in negative space.
Freed me from my own prison
I move in my attitude,
go into the unknown –
things aren’t always ordered.
Life is trying to teach me something – I better listen.
I notice a sense of self, love for my kids,
optimism a bloom six years in the bud
spoken with such conviction.
The sun isn’t moving – we are;
one moment it is day, the next moment it is not;
words, thoughts and phrases are the sun and I am the earth.
Nothing but writing is writing;
live in the now –
a single stem,
the greeting of a dog.